Cenozoic geology of the continental slope and rise off western Nova Scotia
Swift, Stephen A.
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KeywordGeology; Cenozoic; Robert D. Conrad (Ship) Cruise RC2408; Atlantis II (Ship : 1963-) Cruise AII32; Knorr (Ship : 1970-) Cruise KN31; Chain (Ship : 1958-) Cruise CH70
The outer continental margin of Nova Scotia is divided by a diapir province, 40-110 km wide and ~1000km long, that trends subparallel to the shelf edge along the upper continental rise and slope. The growth pattern for a small region of this margin (61°-64°W) during the Late Cretaceous and Cenozoic was studied using seismic stratigraphy and well data. Structure maps show that a steep continental slope existed landward of the diapir province (~2200-3800 m water depth) from Early Cretaceous until Miocene time when onlapping upper rise sediments reduced the gradient. Shelf edge canyons were cut during the late Maestrichtian-early Paleocene, Eocene-Oligocene, and Pleistocene. Extensions of Tertiary canyons onto the slope are poorly defined, but small Paleocene fans of interbedded chalk and mudstone on the upper rise indicate that slope canyons existed at that time. Abyssal currents eroded the upper rise and smoothed relief on the continental slope in the Oligocene and middle(?) Miocene. In the Miocene, turbidites may have ponded on the upper rise landward of seafloor highs uplifted by salt ridges or pillows. Pliocene-Pleistocene sediments drape over pre-existing topography. At the beginning and end of the Pleistocene, turbidity currents, caused by delivery of large sediment loads to the shelf edge by glaciers, eroded the present canyon morphology. The late Cenozoic section of the lower continental rise thins seaward from ~2 km near the diapir province and rests on Horizon Au, a prominent unconformity eroded during the Oligocene by abyssal currents. The morphology of the lower rise is largely due to construction by down-slope deposits shed in the Miocene-Pliocene from uplift of the diapir province. Abyssal currents episodically eroded sediment, but current controlled deposition formed only a thin (<300 m) deposit in the Pliocene(?). Uplift in the diapir province accelerated during the Pleistocene and olistostromes up to 300 m thick were shed onto the lower rise. In the latest Pleistocene, sediments transported down-slope by near-bottom processes accumulated west of a sharp boundary running near 62°30'W from 500 m seaward to the abyssal plain. To the east, hemipelagic sediments accumulated above 4300 m, while turbidity currents, originating in deep canyons to the east, and abyssal currents reworked sediments below 4300 m. A glacial sediment source and relict shelf morphology controlled sedimentation processes and, thus, the location of depocenters on the slope and rise.
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution October 1985
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